This second week of PREPENT’ing is ending, and with it the list of farewells. This process, like cooking, does not proscribe exactly to the step by step of recipies. It makes sense to go in order as the taking-stock of time progresses, but it sometimes happens that the salt gets added when we cook the soup and sometimes at the end or not at all. I began with harvesting the fruits of pride, continue with farewell to what’s been harder. But they overlap, salt and pepper, sweet and bitter, tears are tears and year end summaries, with due perspectives, sometimes blend them all.
The last farwell this week is for the ones who left the earth this year, the ones I loved and died. Some of the most powerful prayers of this season evoke death – the shadow of our demise and the deadlines that this reality evokes – how should we not waste our time. But also the deaths of those we love – a time to remember, honor, think of their gifts. Say, again, goodbye.
Who lives, who died? My list of personal deaths this year is short.
My Uncle Shiko passed away at 97, at home in Jerusalem. My father sat shiva for his older brother, shirt torn and memories flowing. Although he lost his parents and younger brother in the Holocaust, and was there with my mother at many of the mournings for her parents and siblings, this was the first time my father was obligated to sit for seven days and mourn. I kept his shirt, torn and ironed. It has become a piece of art.
My friend David died recently of cancer. We dated once, remained in touch. The news was shocking.
And a little baby whose arrival was so expected but arrived too early died too soon – premature. My first official funeral, of sorts, for there was no body. But he had a name.
Tears, like salt, can be too much or little, but just enough reminds us just how precious each and every slice of life is, even when its gone.
A sabbath coming, time to rest and take stock of all that’s sacred, Salt on the Challa. Shabbat Shalom.